Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Tom Lefroy’s family in Ireland and his relatives in Australia

Yes, indeed my ladies and gents! Our dashing hero actually had relatives in Australia. Thanks to Linda and my excellent interlibrary loan, I found out about this excellent book ‘From Ireland to Western Australia’ by R.E. Cranfield, 1960. Yet, the project was actually commissioned by E.H.B. Lefroy, who was ‘responsible only for supplying material and for verifying information from other sources’ (page 5). Who is (or was) this E.H.B. Lefroy? Edward Henry Bruce Lefroy was none other than the descendant of Thomas Langlois Lefroy’s nephew. This is the story.

We know that Tom Lefroy was born of the Lefroy family in Ireland, who was the descendant of the Huguenot Lefroy who migrated to England in the 16th century (Radovici 1995), hence the name that sounds like a French name. in 1765, Tom’s father (Anthony Peter Lefroy) was secretly married to Ann Gardner in Limerick (Ireland). Five girls were born without Benjamin Langlois (Tom's great uncle and his family's benefactor) knowing about it (Radovici mentioned five, but Cranfield mentioned four). Our Tom was the sixth offspring, also the first son. Later, his mother gave birth to five more offspring. The list of Tom’s sibling (including him) is as follows, according to Cranfield:

1. Lucy Lefroy (January 1, 1768 – May, 1853)

2. Phoebe Lefroy (April 15, 1770 – Dec 5, 1839)

3. Catherine Lefroy (September 18, 1771 – September 3, 1805); according to Spence, she was Kitty Bennet’s namesake in Pride & Prejudice

4. Sarah Lefroy (March 18, 1773 – 1836)

5. Thomas Langlois Lefroy (January 8, 1776 – May 4, 1869); our Tom!

6. Anthony Lefroy (October 19, 1777 – September 7, 1857); his son Thomas Edward Preston Lefroy married Anna Jemima Lefroy (daughter of Anna Austen Lefroy) on September 9, 1846

7. Elizabeth Lefroy (April 17, 1780 – July 22, 1867); again, she reminds me of Spence’s analysis of P&P, that Lizzy Bennet was the female equivalent of Tom Lefroy… or a sister of Tom Lefroy, if any (!)

8. Benjamin Lefroy (May 5, 1782 – ?)

9. Christopher Lefroy (June 26, 1784 – February 14, 1805)

10. Anne Lefroy (January 26, 1786 – ?)

11. Henry Lefroy (May 5, 1789 – January 29, 1876)

Now, Henry Lefroy would later become a vicar in Santry (near Dublin). He had several children from his marriage with Dorothea O’Grady:

1. Anthony O’Grady Lefroy (March 14, 1816 – January 21, 1897)

2. Gerald de Courcy Lefroy (October 4, 1819 – December 15, 1877)

3. Henry Maunsell Lefroy (June 13, 1826 – September 16, 1913)

4. Elizabeth Waller Lefroy (April 11, 1817 – December 23, 1875)

5. Ann Langlois Lefroy (September 9, 1818 – January 4th, 1898)

6. Mary Elizabeth O’Grady Lefroy (June 19th, 1824 – October 1st, 1875)

7. Dorothea Thomasina Lefroy (November 17th, 1831 – February 28th, 1901)

Anthony O’Grady Lefroy and his brother Gerald de Courcy Lefroy would later, in 1842, sail onboard the Lady Grey to Australia for a new living. Anthony O’Grady was the private secretary of Governor Charles Fitzgerald 1843 – c1853 and 1854-1855. In 1856, he was appointed Colonial Treasurer until December 1890 (over 30 years!). He then retired to Perth and died there in 1897. One of his sons Henry Bruce Lefroy later became the 11th Premier of Western Australia from June 1917 until April 1919. This Henry, who later received his Knighthood, hence became Sir Henry Bruce Lefroy, had several sons. One of them was Edward Henry Bruce (E.H.B.) Lefroy (born on May 22, 1887). And as we return to the beginning of the story, Sir Edward Lefroy, as he was usually called, was the initiator of ‘From Ireland to Western Australia’. In another word, the initiator of the book (not the writer, mind you) was the great grand nephew (or however you say it) of Thomas Langlois Lefroy.

Cool eh? Now, after that brief historical story of the Lefroy settlement in Australia, let’s go back to Tom Lefroy. I have to confess that I was anticipating that ‘From Ireland to Western Australia’ will contain ‘nothing’ but the genealogy of the Lefroys in Australia. Thus, I was very surprised that in the first pages of the book, I found the name of… Jane Austen! What about her, eh? Well… wait for my next post, which hopefully I will post within the hour.


Cranfield, R. E. 1960, From Ireland to Western Australia: The Establishment of a Branch of the Lefroy Family at Walebing, Western Australia, 1842 to 1960, Service Printing Perth.

Radovici, N. 1995, A Youthful Love: Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy?, Merlin Books Devon.

Spence, J. 2003, Becoming Jane Austen, 2007, Second edn, Continuum International Publishing Group, London.

Pic 1: the Lefroy family crest, 'From Ireland to WA' (Motto: 'Mutare sperno', I scorn to change)

Pic 2: Anthony O'Grady Lefroy, 'From Ireland to WA'

Pic 3: The bust statue of Thomas Langlois Lefroy, 'From Ireland to WA'


Rachel said...

FANTASTIC research!!!!
So interesting!

Anonymous said...

Nice to read more about my Family name. My Grandfather was Jeffery LeFroy, who at one stage owned one of the largest sheep stations in W.A